Among of the most enduring cultural contributions of Pennsylvania Germans of the late 1700s and 1800s were highly decorated birth and baptismal certificates, known as “taufschein.” Originating in Berks County, PA — where Friedrich and Eva Maria (Weber) Meinert Sr. settled in the 1730s — the art form is highly prized today for originality and color as well as valuable genealogical information about the child and his or her parents and sponsors.
This taufschein was commissioned by the Meinerts’ great-grandson and his wife James and Mary (Bernhardt) Fegely of Longswamp Township, Berks County for their son David “Wilson” Fegely. Born on May 30, 1851 in nearby Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, Wilson was baptized at age four months, on Sept. 25, 1851, by Rev. Jeremias Schindel of the Lutheran wing of Solomon’s Church. David and Sallie (Trollinger) Hertzog stood for the infant as his sponsors.
As a teenager, Wilson received formal religious instruction and was confirmed by Rev. D.K. Humbert in the Longswamp Church.
This taufschein measures 16¼ inches by 13¾ inches and was pre-printed in black ink, as a fill-in-the blank form, by Plumer, Butch and Co. of Allentown. It was hand-colored by the artist using decorative figures of angels, an eagle and birds using gold, red and green watercolors. The layout not only includes a central rectangular space with Wilson’s hand-lettered birth and baptism particulars, but also smaller rectangular spaces above to the left and right, and below, with pre-printed inspirational writings. Approximate translations into English are provided below, with thanks to Linda Marker — of the family of Frederick J. and Delilah (Faidley) Younkin — for her work on the translation, applying her knowledge of the oddities of Pennsylvania German dialect.
To study detailed scans of this taufschein, including the handwriting as well as the inspirational texts, visit the Minerd.com Photo of the Month for March 2019.